The World’s Most Powerful Women: August 17

August 17, 2016, 6:30 AM UTC

With all the attention on whether the next occupant of the White House will be a woman, it’s (almost) easy to forget that there’s another realm of global influence that may get a female leader this fall: the United Nations.

The UN’s current secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, just weighed in on the issue, saying that after over 70 years, it was “high time” for the organization to have a woman at the helm. At the moment, there are 11 candidates up for the secretary general position. Five of them are female.

They include a number of high-powered women who have been featured in WMPW: Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian head of UNESCO; former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark; former Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman; Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra; and the newest entry, Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres, a UN climate change official and a member of the Time 100 list of influential people.

The 15-member security council, which recommends a candidate to the UN’s general assembly to vote on, has held two informal polls on the secretary general position so far. Neither time, a woman was picked. Another straw poll is scheduled for later this month.

As Ban put it, there are “many distinguished, motivated women leaders who can really change this world, who can actively engage with the other leaders of the world.” It sounds like he would vote for a woman, but he doesn’t get to cast a ballot. Still, when the actual decision is made, security council officials would do well to heed his advice, and give a woman a chance.



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Brazier's black truffles
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Sexism in the fund biz
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Financial Times


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New York Times


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New York Times


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New York Times



Sometimes motherhood is described as a career handicap but for me it was a career springboard. The contentment and excitement it brought made me better at my job; more organized, more content and more focused on what really matters.
— Cilla Snowball, group chief executive at advertising group AMV BBDO